Monthly Archives: June 2016

From foot to face

I have a lot of socks – many, and the most frequently worn, are wool, and an equal number or more are cotton which I don’t wear much except the “sport” style for summer walking, more aged ones for home improvement/yard tasks, and a few decent ones for those scarce days that are too cool for bare feet but too warm for wool and perfect for thin wool (but I have the fewest of those). Most are leftover from work and my days of living without a washing machine wherein quality of life meant fewer trips to the laundromat.

But I’m getting more and more organized and for shits and giggles konmaried the whole lot. Folding*, that is – socks don’t spark much joy so I keep them until they’re 100% unwearable/unmendable so I haven’t had to buy new ones in ages, and I still appreciate the broken-down ones.

But I was left with a couple of pairs of 25+ year-old cotton and wool socks that have never quite served a purpose – too much cotton for cold outdoors activities (cotton can kill and/or loose toes), but too thick for warm ones, and not enough wool for warmth and elasticity. (The wool is the thinner grey-brown strand of the marl.)

So I finally decided to kill, rather than darn, a pair with blown-out heels.

foot face-before

But the yarn of the cuff felt nearly perfect still, and useful for something

foot face-unraveling

So I cut it above the worst of the heel, and it unraveled well from the bottom up.

foot face-elastic

(It also had an annoying near-invisible thread of elastic that I painstakingly picked out.)

foot face-balls

And I was left with a couple of good-sized balls of enough yards to become something.

I didn’t want it to be socks again, nor any other wearable thing, but it hit me that the blend would be perfect for washcloths/dish cloths.

So I cast on for Grandmother’s Favorite dish cloth and knit to 68 stitches wide on US 4 needles

foot face-during

The fabric ended up being better than I’d expected – lovely natural colors and good drape.

foot face - after

So I started on a second, and will try to salvage some yardage from the worse for wear (mostly pilled) feet for a third.

They might be too “nice” for the dishes now though…

*The folded socks ended up returning to their more fluid balled state shortly thereafter – if the drawer isn’t overstuffed, it doesn’t really matter how they go in as long as they’re paired.

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Filed under collecting, hiking, home decor, knitting, recycling

Creeping madness garden tour

I am filled with disgust for my country these days – we’ve often been on tenuous terms, but the politicians (especially the oddly coiffed asshole), some law enforcers, and a few everyday folks are creating this entirely horrific trifecta of ignorance and madness and triggerhappiness…

I think about making things as a response, or a way to process, some of the news, but by the time I put needle to cloth, another something terrible happens and I retreat to less loaded projects.

The garden is back to serving as a place where I can zone out while pulling weeds and waging a calmer, natural war.

I just called in 1,500 ladybug troops to neutralize the aphids.

garden-ladybugs

Releasing them was ticklish.

And reminded me of this book:

garden-creeping madness

Or rather, the cover – it’s a narcotics education book I inexplicably had as a kid.

(I’ve also been mildly interested in dunking my feet into a tank of flesh-eating fish to clean up the dead skin – but while a few creepy crawly nibbles don’t bother me, a dozen or so might. But never, ever centipedes and millipedes – I must admit, I’ll occasionally jump and scream at little at those – especially when they charge.)

And yes, the vast majority of the ladybugs flew away, but a handful stuck around – no noticeable reduction of the aphids, yet…

garden-gooseberry

The gooseberry bush is fruiting away and I tried one at the first blush rather than waiting for it to fully redly ripen – it was pleasantly tart and tasted nostalgic.

We’re eating so much lettuce and greens that our blood and guts seem laden with chlorophyll – I’m expecting a bud or tiny leaf might appear from a popped pimple.

But I was overjoyed to indulge in one of my fleeting favorites recently – garlic scape pesto – followed by a few pickled scapes sprinkled on salads and sandwiches.

garden-beanpole

N disassembled parts of one of my old (large) wooden sculptures from college to create an industrial-strength pole bean teepee. I’d clung on to the still semi-unfinished piece for more than 20 years – seems ridiculous now – and the rest will become warmth and marshmallow fuel in our fire bowl.

garden-lots-o-zukes

And I don’t want to jinx it, but this year, the ladies have finally taken over in the zucchini patch – last year it was mostly dudes – tasty, short-lived dudes.

garden-baby toms

I don’t think we’ll get a lusty red ripe tomato by the 4th of July this year, but hopefully it will come shortly thereafter. And the heirlooms are way ahead in the race – the sauce tomatoes might end up flirting with the frosts again.

garden-seats

And N pulled a slightly rotting outdoor settee sort of thing out of the trash, and with a few new pieces of wood and a fresh coat of paint, we can now sit and watch everything grow.

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Minimal failure

Perhaps it was because Spring came and went, or for a bit we thought we might have to move again, or because we had to dog-proof the house, or my recent life changes inspired me to take greater control over things I could, but I’ve never felt the pull of minimalism as strongly as I do now.

I’m tired of not knowing where things are – if I use/enjoy something, it should be in a place, not buried in a poorly-labeled box, otherwise I shouldn’t have it… right? This is my mantra of sorts, and is working for me (sort of) now. I’ve blathered on about spending most of my life living in a cabinet of curiosities, so now I’m aiming to cull and contain my most prized pointless objects to an actual cabinet.

Once a year our town has a junk week wherein you put what you don’t want, or what was too big to throw away without paying extra, out on the curb. What follows is a mildly pleasant time of encountering previously un-met picking and promenading neighbors, and scavenging jalopies with faulty mufflers that clatter by at dusk and dawn but disappear the worst of the worst – busted motors from ceiling fans, a single broken shutter, planks from a floating floor that ReStore refused – and by the time the Goodwill truck comes followed by the bulky trash truck, there’s very little, or nothing, left for them to claim.

For the last couple of years I have avoided going on the junk walks – not that I didn’t want to meet more neighbors, I just didn’t want to haul something rusty and broken and utterly useless, but devastatingly beautiful home. I am not acquiring any new [old] things unless they serve a purpose, right? But we wanted to see if we could find anything for the garden and yard – old windows for cold frame beds, bricks/pavers/flat things for stepping stones, or all-weather tchotchkes for whimsy.

orange fabric unfurled

Instead I scored a massive bolt of blaze orange upholstery fabric and a couple of pieces of extra thick canvas.

Do I need them? Nope.

Can I use them? Of course.

Will I use them? Eh…..

orange fabric detail

I haven’t tested the orange fabric yet for content – I’d say it’s likely to be at least mostly cotton and feels nice in the hand. I could make a new cover for the old basement sofa with it, or complete hiking-during-hunting-season in a globally warmed climate ensemble for a family of four, or a helluva lot of tote bags.

(I justify many a cheap fabric purchase or acquisition in the name of tote bags…).

Or perhaps I should sell it.

But I’m thinking of dabbling with painted floorcloths for the canvas – the weight is perfect – perhaps it would make a good runner on our map stairs.

In my defense, when folded, the new fabric takes up less space than the items we discarded – including an extra old microwave oven I’ve been clinging to for purposes of craft or unrealistic thoughts of second workplace abodes…

But I have absolutely no room left for fabric and for now, it’s in the shed where fabric, except tarps and garden stuff, should never be.

But I’m making headway in other areas – a childhood’s worth of seaside souvenir shells have become landlocked in the garden (except for a few extra special ones), I disposed of a cubic foot of (some decade-old) tights, and 4-H trophies have been reduced to parts and donated to the art/craft supply place. The prize ribbons, however, are fiber after all, so I feel obligated to make something from them, but then what? I’d have another thing with memories and then extra making memories I’d want to keep but not store…

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Restoring ReStore yarn

I often look for yarn at thrift stores, but rarely find anything other than acrylic.

(And not the better acrylics that I would consider using for charity knitting and whatnot – the nasty stuff that is most often bright obnoxious red or an inexplicable white.)

During the last few months of winter and early spring, despite periods of beautiful weather, the weekends were often nasty, so we fell into a near weekly ReStore habit. We brought home a few more books, a few tchotchkes I’ll probably end up selling online, weights that had regular use for only a few weeks, and some vinyl records – but never the little piece of furniture or two we were actually seeking. But on the last trip, I spied some good yarn – some luxury stuff, and a decent amount of lovely rustic tweed for 50 cents each.

The tweed was a sad victim of carpet beetles – some of the balls had the telltale broken ends without any mothly webbing – I carefully examined each, left three behind and snatched up two that seemed to be in the clear, along with a ball and skein of the soft stuff.

Since I knew the bastard beetles had been near the yarn, I didn’t take any chances – wrapped the yarn tight before leaving the store, stuck it in a zip lock bag outside, threw the shopping bag into the recycling outside, then tossed it in the freezer for a week. Then let it warm up for another, then froze it again, then warmed it again – all the time shaking vigorously to see if anything fell out.

restore yarn - freeze

But all seemed well, so I re-skeined it all to wash. No breakages either, so I felt better knowing that these were spared from direct attack.

restore yarn - lux

The yarn on the right was wound into a ball too tightly – might be hard to see, but it was thinner and flattened a bit, but it was still nearly the full skein.

restore yarn - donegal det

And the tweed is a lovely teal. My camera can’t shoot teal, but this is close, and the raspberry bit of tweed is accurate and shows its era…

restore yarn label

Yep, here we are back in the ’80s (maybe early ’90s, sometimes knitting style lagged) but I love teal, so I’ll put up with the raspberry. I won’t, however, put up with back buttoning garments – I can still feel the buttons jabbing in between my spine knuckles on a hard-backed chair…

restore yarn - wash

They both had a nice long soak, followed by another vinegary one, then spun out and dried.

restore yarn washed and dry

And they’re back to a pleasant fluffy, beetle-free state.

Technically, this failed my yarn buying ban, but it was only $2 total – the two skeins of Road to China alone would have been over $30, and though the color is lovely, but a little too fleshy by itself, I’ll probably combine it with a few other complimentary things in the stash – it might become part of a luxe scrappy stole. And I’ve got a small collection of tweed that needed a bit more to become something, and these two new skeins should complete it – if not, it would pair well with handspun, or make for some nice mittens.

On the one hand, I don’t believe a knitter should pass along infested yarn or risk infesting a thrift, but on the other, I’m glad this wasn’t just thrown away…

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Early harvests

I’m having a hard time to adjusting to being sans job this time around. The last time it happened, I had to hurry up and deal with the sale of our old house and all of the packing up, storing, and moving to the next state over, so too much was going on to really feel the break. But this time, I’ve been getting up and going into my home office every day since we’ve lived here and I can’t shake the feeling that I’m slacking off if I’m not sitting at my desk. Though if I sit at my desk and try to do something mildly constructive like write a bit about fiber or put up some ebay listings, I’ll easily forget my train of thought. Or the dog starts to act nutty…

harvest - not a pastry

Or I’ll wander off for a snack and see a paper bag in the kitchen and think maybe I have a forgotten tasty sandwich or chocolate croissant ready to surprise and delight me with deliciousness but then remember it was just some random bit of home improvement I picked up at the hardware store a few hours previously…

But I’m trying to find a new rhythm and hopefully in another week or so things will lean to normal. (Though I started writing this over a week ago, so maybe I’d better hope for another few weeks or so…)

harvest garden full

The garden is finally fully planted and/or germinated. The only total failure so far was fennel, and I’m in a current aphid war in one tomato bed, but not the other, yet.

(The neighbors also just rebuilt their retaining wall near the property line – thanks neighbor, well done!)

May’s dirt is a time of impatience then sudden chaos – one day I’m thinning baby greens…

harvest - fresh greens

And enjoying their first meal-sized portion after N’s culinary intervention:

harvest - greens pasta

And then in a few days, we have a sudden, aggressive bounty of lusty, verdant young adults…

harvest rapini

And we’ll be crowded with green, barely able to keep up, but reluctant to share, for weeks (fingers crossed).

Gardening and unruly dog handling have left my wrists sore, so I’ve done little to no knitting, spinning, and sewing. (Worrying about the dog chewing up or swallowing fiber tools has also curtailed my activities – I can’t leave anything lying about at the ready as I’m wont to do.) But I hit the thrift one last time in the early spring to gather up some yarn-harvestable sweaters before they disappeared for the season.

harvest - bag o sweaters

One was a lovely olive wool/cashmere? blend – I already misplaced the label as that is one of the things I often leave out while unraveling. But I think this might become a Paris Toujours instead of the brown cashmere I’d planned, though I’ve a hundred yards or so less of the olive. This yarn begs for something garter-stitch-squishy though (and I’m thinking of a poncho-like thing in the brown instead… maybe.)

harvest olive yarn

And another was a printed cotton/rayon cardigan. I’d been wanting to play with a printed knit that would turn into variegated yarn, but I hadn’t finished the thought as to what I’d do with it. The kinks remained after washing – likely because of the rayon? but that doesn’t matter too much, since I’ll likely double or triple it with something else or itself. And I can’t accurately count the yardage to save my life…

harvest - printed yarn

The others are wool and wool or cotton blends – I went out of my comfort zone a bit in order to get some interesting yarns and have some wool-free options if I ever get around to selling things (either the harvested yarn or something made from it). And several of these were less than ideal since they were cardigans with cut and stitched buttonholes, so one panel is left on several that will need to be sewn into something, or if I’m desperate, I could still harvest a dozen or so yards between the holes.

(Of course I still have dozens of other sweaters waiting to be unraveled as well, but those are still packed up – much easier to just find new ones…)

 

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